China to End Video Game Console Ban, With a Catch


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For 13 years, China has officially banned the sale of video game consoles in its country. Now, a new Chinese economic plan reveals that the ban may soon come to an end - but with a catch.

The South China Morning Post today reported that a policy blueprint for a "Shanghai free trade zone" would allow for the sale of video game consoles, as long as foreign hardware companies (such as Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft) manufacture the consoles within the new free trade zone. The plan reportedly has the backing of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, who is seeking to open China to more foreign business investments.

Console manufacturers will need the approval of the Chinese culture ministry to sell their products, meaning strict content censorship (stricter than Australia, even) will likely be implemented. The main reason cited for the original ban was the violence and political content seen in mainstream video games.

The end of China's official console ban could dead a huge blow to the large black market that has sprung up in the country around video games. China is well-known as a major consumer of pirated video games and video game consoles. Though the report quotes a Sony official as saying the Japanese company does not yet have a plan for selling PlayStation consoles in China, the head of Microsoft's Greater China region, Ralph Haupter, has been quoted as saying that Microsoft is addressing legal barriers to an Xbox One launch in China.

(via South China Morning Post)